What's the Deal With USB Type-C?

These soon-to-be-ubiquitous connectors can deliver USB 3.1, MHL, DisplayPort functionality
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SHERMAN OAKS, Calif.�The demand for USB-C cables, accessories, and adapters will be driven by the likes of the MacBook, Google�s Chromebook Pixel and other various phones. Indeed, seeing this open-market connector used on the MacBook for power and on the new Apple TV for service upgrades rather than something proprietary, along with being the single port for connectivity and communication indicates that there is a future here.

USB Type-C hubs facilitate the connection of standard USB peripherals to devices such as

the Chromebook Pixel models with USB-C connectivity.

USB Type-C hubs facilitate the connection of standard USB peripherals to devices such as the Chromebook Pixel models with USB-C connectivity.

Lightning connectors used in current iPhones and iPads share some important characteristics with USB-C cables. Both are symmetrical, or in plain language, reversible. That means you can plug them either way; there is no longer the �is it up or down� conundrum everyone faces with older USB connectors. If that was all that USB-C offered it would be worth it, but there is more. Much more.

Power over a variety of connection cables is not new, as MHL and USB 2.0 offer it, but USB-C takes it to a higher level with the capabilities inherent in USB 3.1. That means that a product can send up to 5 amps at 20 volts, or 100 watts, down the line. That�s enough to power virtually any laptop and many monitors, or supply charging current to a wide of variety of phones and/or tablets at the same time.

The 10 Gbps data rate possible through USB-C and the charging capability belong to that standard, regardless of the connection type. In other words, products may offer those specs and more through any USB-compatible connection, not just USB-C. Let�s emphasize the �may� in the ability to offer features, as the connector type itself doesn�t guarantee what it is used for any more than the standard specifies that full-sized Type A, smaller Micro-B 3.0, or USB-C must be used for USB 3.1.

That is when the possibility for confusion starts and where you must be vigilant when putting a multicomponent ecosystem together. In many respects, this no different from how the guardians of HDMI mandate that devices clearly specify which capabilities and attributes a product has. Yes, most HDMI �Version 2.0� products now go out to 600 MHz, offer ARC and similar, but those items and anything else above the base standard is optional. You have to carefully review the spec sheets to see what a device provides for HDMI, and now you will have to do it for USB-C.

Read the full article on Radio sister publication Residential Systems' website here.�

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